February 17, 2010
United Nations Environment Programme
Kigali (Rwanda)/Nairobi (Kenya) - Rwanda, the East African country that is embracing a transition to a Green Economy, will be the global host of World Environment Day 2010, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced today.
World Environment Day (WED), which aims to be the biggest global celebration for positive environmental action, is coordinated by UNEP every year on 5 June.
This year's theme is 'Many Species. One Planet. One Future.' - a message focusing on the central importance to humanity of the globe's wealth of species and ecosystems. The WED theme also supports this year's UN International Year of Biodiversity.
Rwanda's combination of environmental richness, including rare and economically-important species such as the mountain gorilla, allied to newly evolving and pioneering green policies is among the reasons why UNEP welcomed its offer to be the global 2010 host.
While the country faces many challenges ranging from overcoming poverty and developing sustainable energy resources to land degradation, this 'land of a thousand hills' is developing forward-looking strategies including the development of renewable energies such as solar power and biogas generation.
It is already internationally-renowned for introducing a ban on plastic bags, nationwide environmental clean-up campaigns and the development of a conservation corridor for chimpanzees.
Paul Kagame, the President of the Republic of Rwanda, said: "The environment, from the country's biological diversity to developing modern and sustainable businesses, is at the heart of our vision for the future of Rwanda. We are honoured to host World Environment Day on behalf of both the African and the whole international community, and we look forward to organizing a truly global celebration of the diversity of life on our planet."
Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director and UN Under-Secretary-General, said: "WED has become a dynamic and global grass roots expression of humanity's desire to realize meaningful and positive environmental change. And Rwanda is an African nation that, despite big challenges, is seizing the multiple opportunities possible from Green Economic policies."
"The pairing of Rwanda with WED in 2010 is thus a compelling and inspiring alliance-underlining that all economies, rich and poor and North and South have real and tangible opportunities to shape a more sustainable development path: One that develops new business models based on intelligent management of the natural world and high tech clean and renewable businesses," he added.
WED is a day for everyone on the planet to get involved and go green - from schoolchildren to presidents and from community groups to multinationals.
Rwanda's capital Kigali will be the venue for this global celebration of the environment, with a myriad of activities over several days to inspire Rwandans, East Africans and people around the world to take action for the environment.
The celebrations in Kigali will be just one of thousands of events taking place around the globe on 5 June. UNEP plans to make WED 2010 into a bigger celebration than ever before, building on the unprecedented success of WED 2009 - when people in more than 80 countries registered activities on the WED website, hundreds of people posted Daily Do Something Tips and more than 10,000 people joined the 'twitter for trees' campaign, among other achievements.
Under the rallying cry of 'Many Species, One Planet, One Future', WED 2010 will aim to mobilize more people than ever for the environment on 5 June, with a huge variety of activities ranging from school tree-planting drives to community clean-ups, car-free days, photo competitions on biodiversity, bird-watching trips, city park clean-up initiatives, exhibits, green petitions, nationwide green campaigns and much more.
The WED 2010 website will inspire, inform and involve people through unprecedented interactivity, offering daily tips, information and statistics on biodiversity, a platform where people around the world can register their activities, social networking campaigns and competitions to get people on every continent involved. Anyone can organize an event and register it on the WED website - the most important thing is to give a helping hand to the amazing variety of life on our planet.
Notes to Editors:
About WED 2010
A total of 17,291 species are known to be threatened with extinction - from obscure plants and insects to well-known birds and mammals. This is just the tip of the iceberg; many species disappear before they are even discovered.
The reason? Human activities. With our present approach to development, we have caused the clearing of much of the original forest, drained half of the world's wetlands, depleted three quarters of all fish stocks, and emitted enough heat-trapping gases to keep our planet warming for centuries to come. We have put our foot on the accelerator, making species extinctions occur at up to 1,000 times the natural rate.
As a result, we are increasingly risking the loss of the very foundation of our own survival. The variety of life on our planet - known as 'biodiversity' - gives us our food, clothes, fuel, medicine and much, much more. You may not think that a beetle in your backyard or grass growing by the roadside has a fundamental connection to you - but it does. When even one species is taken out of the intricate web of life, the results can be catastrophic.
At the same time, humans have the power to stem the tide of extinction. Through concerted conservation action, we have brought some species back from the brink, and have restored some vital natural habitats around the world. But we need to do much more, and much faster, to win the race against extinction.
For this reason, the United Nations has declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity. It is an opportunity to stress the importance of biodiversity for human well-being, reflect on our achievements to safeguard it and encourage a redoubling of our efforts to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss.
The theme of WED 2010 (World Environment Day) is 'Many Species. One Planet. One Future.' It echoes the urgent call to conserve the diversity of life on our planet. A world without biodiversity is a very bleak prospect. Millions of people and millions of species all share the same planet, and only together can we enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.
As we celebrate WED, let us consider carefully the actions each of us must take, and then address ourselves to our common task of preserving all life on Earth.
Through WED, we can employ our individual and collective power to stem the tide of extinction. Our conservation action has brought some species back from the brink, and has restored some vital natural habitats around the world. On WED, let us resolve to do much more, and much faster, to win the race against extinction!
For more information on the International Year of Biodiversity, visit: http://www.unep.org/iyb/
Details about WED campaigns and special initiatives will be announced at http://www.unep.org/WED in the run-up to 5 June.
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